Posts Tagged "Jacob Wetterling"
Thanks to all of you who have been following my Jacob Wetterling story. It’s been almost a year since I started this blog topic (the second time around), after I was contacted by Dan Rassier last January. Since that time, I have learned a lot about this case, thanks in part to witnesses like Dan, Kevin, and Jared who have been willing to share their stories with me.
From the beginning, my goal has been to stick to the facts and eliminate wrong or misleading information. So far, this has worked out well. I truly believe this case is solvable, but only if people are willing to come together and share their stories.
Times have changed a lot since 1989. Information moves faster than ever before, and we must take advantage of this because, unfortunately, time is not on our side.
Next fall will mark the 25th anniversary of Jacob Wetterling’s abduction. However, one week from today, on January 13, 2014, we will also observe another important milestone in this case… the 25th anniversary of Jared’s abduction. He was “the other boy” – the 12 year kid from Cold Spring who was abducted and assaulted 10 months prior to Jacob.
I’ve gotten to know Jared over the past several months, and as we’ve collaborated on his case, I’ve noticed him evolve from a casual contributor to an impassioned man on a mission. In fact, it was his persistence that led me to discover an article from a 1987 issue of the Paynesville Press that mentioned five other cases of assaults on young boys that sounded surprisingly similar to his own. (If you missed that blog post, read it here.)
Since that time, Jared has been working closely with the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department to learn more about these cases from 1986-1987. Unfortunately, eyewitness accounts have been lost or destroyed over time, so Jared is now reaching out to the public for help.
Just this week, Jared submitted an article to the Paynesville Press that will run in tomorrow’s paper. I’m including a copy of the article below, as well as a Google map which shows the approximate locations of each of the 1986-1987 incidents. (I compiled this information from archived newspaper articles and input from longtime Paynesville residents.)
We are hoping this information will shed new light on these cases and bring renewed hope to the victims. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office 320-251-4240 (answered 24/7), or email firstname.lastname@example.org (reviewed daily).
View Paynesville Incidents, 1986-1989 in a larger map
On Friday, January 13, 1989 I was the victim of an assault. I was 12 years old and lived in Cold Spring at the time. An unknown man approached me in a car, asked for directions, and abducted me. Twenty-five years have passed and I’ve dealt with many emotions through the years… a time of being scared, a time of anger, a time of solitude and loneliness, a time of resolution… but still waiting for closure. I’ve learned to deal with my past. I moved on, but never forgot. Recently I discovered that Paynesville had some similar incidents take place back in 1986-1987. There were at least five attacks on 12-16 year old boys with details similar to mine. I’ve been investigating these attacks and am trying to learn more details from victims or anyone else who lived in the community at the time. Paynesville is a small town. People know people. I hope something may come from this. The similarities between the cases are as follows: Around the same time these attacks happened, there was a sexual predator from around the area who was arrested and convicted in 1990. He is still locked up. He had a history of using drugs or alcohol to subdue his victims. Over the years, I did line-ups with this man and was questioned extensively to see if I would recognize him. He was never charged in my case and, to this day, he denies any involvement. So who did this? I’m at the point in my life where I’m wondering if I’ve done everything I can to help solve this investigation. I would like to find and talk to these other victims. Maybe it seems like it’s easier to forget and move on, but we need to understand we’re a part of something bigger. Because of the similarities of our two cases, I’ve been involved with the Jacob Wetterling investigation for 24 years. Now I need your help. The only way these cases are going to get solved is by people coming together and sharing their stories. The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office needs new statements from victims. Anyone who knows any information about the incidents in 1986-1987, or any other attempted attacks, is encouraged to come forward. Twenty-five years ago, this man left me with these words, “It’s OK to talk about this, but if they come close to finding me, I’ll find you after school and kill you… before they find me. Now run, and don’t look back or I’ll shoot.” I have lived with the stress of this event all my life, and in ways, it defines who I am. I suspect other victims live with the same stress, and I would like to speak with them. People with information can call the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office at 320-251-4240. If you are a victim, they will refer you to me.
Embracing the Past
On Friday, January 13, 1989 I was the victim of an assault. I was 12 years old and lived in Cold Spring at the time. An unknown man approached me in a car, asked for directions, and abducted me. Twenty-five years have passed and I’ve dealt with many emotions through the years… a time of being scared, a time of anger, a time of solitude and loneliness, a time of resolution… but still waiting for closure.
I’ve learned to deal with my past. I moved on, but never forgot.
Recently I discovered that Paynesville had some similar incidents take place back in 1986-1987. There were at least five attacks on 12-16 year old boys with details similar to mine. I’ve been investigating these attacks and am trying to learn more details from victims or anyone else who lived in the community at the time. Paynesville is a small town. People know people. I hope something may come from this.
The similarities between the cases are as follows:
Around the same time these attacks happened, there was a sexual predator from around the area who was arrested and convicted in 1990. He is still locked up. He had a history of using drugs or alcohol to subdue his victims. Over the years, I did line-ups with this man and was questioned extensively to see if I would recognize him. He was never charged in my case and, to this day, he denies any involvement.
So who did this? I’m at the point in my life where I’m wondering if I’ve done everything I can to help solve this investigation. I would like to find and talk to these other victims. Maybe it seems like it’s easier to forget and move on, but we need to understand we’re a part of something bigger.
Because of the similarities of our two cases, I’ve been involved with the Jacob Wetterling investigation for 24 years. Now I need your help. The only way these cases are going to get solved is by people coming together and sharing their stories. The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office needs new statements from victims. Anyone who knows any information about the incidents in 1986-1987, or any other attempted attacks, is encouraged to come forward.
Twenty-five years ago, this man left me with these words, “It’s OK to talk about this, but if they come close to finding me, I’ll find you after school and kill you… before they find me. Now run, and don’t look back or I’ll shoot.”
I have lived with the stress of this event all my life, and in ways, it defines who I am. I suspect other victims live with the same stress, and I would like to speak with them. People with information can call the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office at 320-251-4240. If you are a victim, they will refer you to me.
It’s that day again… October 22. A few years ago, this day would have come and gone without much thought on my part. Another day, another dollar, another deadline. However, since I started blogging about a certain story three years ago, October 22 now holds a special place in my heart.
That’s because today — October 22, 2013 — marks the 24th anniversary of Jacob Wetterling’s abduction.
Twenty four years? How can that possibly be? It’s hard to believe, but Jacob would be 35 years old today. That smiley kid in the yellow shirt would be 35 years old. But, instead of running his kids to football practice or lamenting over the debut of our new Vikings quarterback, Jacob remains a memory… forever 11 years old… never aging… and never found.
When I first started writing about Jacob three years ago, I was hopeful I could somehow make a difference. I really believed if I could talk to the right people, get the facts straight, and keep the conversation going, that maybe someone somewhere might hold the key that could unlock this 24 year old mystery.
No go. After a lot of effort, the facts remains the same. Jacob remains missing. The case remains unsolved.
But today… maybe just maybe… the key is closer than we think.
Not long after I wrote my last blog post, “Jared’s story,” I was researching a different story when I ran across an old 1987 newspaper article from the Paynesville Press. (Paynesville is a small town about 30 miles from St. Joseph.)
It ran on the front page. Here’s the article:
Local police seek help in accosting incidents
The Paynesville Police Department is seeking public support in apprehending a man that has been accosting young men in the Paynesville community. So far there have been five different incidents reported.
Sergeant Bill Drager, Paynesville Police Department, said, “We need help, all the help we can get.”
According to Sgt. Drager, the incidents began last summer, there were two more incidents during the winter, one incident occured this spring and another last week.
The police are taking these incidents very seriously.
Sgt. Drager stated, “After this guy grabs the boys he tells them, ‘Don’t turn around or I’ll blow your head off’ and in at least one instance he used a knife.” The man then makes sexual advances to the boys.
The young men that have been assaulted range in age from 12-16 years of age. “The kids are scared,” Sgt. Drager said.
There doesn’t appear to be any pattern to the area that the attacks take place. One incident happened by the river, another in the hockey rink area, downtown Ben Franklin area, middle school playground, and the alley between the middle school and the hospital.
The last incident happened when two young men were riding their bikes home. One young man was grabbed off of his bike and the other young man went for help.
In every instance, the young men had been downtown before they were accosted. “It think he’s picking them out downtown and then following them home or lying in wait for them to go home,” Sgt. Drager said.
Every instance occurred on a weekend night after dark — between 9:30pm and 2:00am.
The suspect wore a mask on several occasions. Sgt. Drager said one young man described the mask as looking like it was made out of indoor-outdoor candy-striped carpeting.
The man is supposedly 5’11″ tall, not fat, but chunky. In the last incident, he had blackened everything — so that you couldn’t make out anything on his face. He can run fast, according to witnesses.
The police are encouraging people to call in if they see anything strange or suspicious. “If someone is lurking around or walking on your property — call us,” Sgt. Drager said. “We want calls — that’s preventative more than anything,” he added.
Sgt. Drager also said, “I don’t know if the public’s going to go for it or not, but we may have to go to a curfew.”
There really are not rules to follow if you are accosted. Sgt. Drager suggested, “Holler and run away if you can — it worked the last time.”
Sgt. Drager is also considering talking to the school administrators so that teachers can help make students aware of what is happening.”
These five assault cases took place between 1986 and 1987… the last one occurring just a year and a half before Jared was assaulted. If you read Jared’s story, you’re probably in full agreement that this has to be the same guy who assaulted Jared, and quite possibly the same guy who abducted Jacob. The M.O. is eerily similar… the hockey rink… kids downtown… threat of a gun… authoritative manner… stocky build…
I read the article to Jared over the phone, and he couldn’t believe it. He wanted to know more. So, I emailed the Stearns County Sheriff Department and told them Jared wanted to meet with them so he could learn more about his own case, and these five assault cases from 1987.
As it turns out, current investigators had never heard of these five cases.
Since then, a lot has happened. I can’t discuss all of it quite yet, but here’s how you can help. The Stearns County Sheriff’s Department is actively trying to collect statements from these five boys who were assaulted in 1987. If you know any of these young men, please contact the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department at 320-251-4240 (answered 24/7), or email email@example.com (reviewed daily). If you’d rather, you may also email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org. Jared has also agreed to talk to any of the five men who would be willing to discuss their case with him.
As for the rest of us, here’s another way we can help. Today, in honor of Jacob Wetterling and all the other missing children, leave your front porch light lit throughout the day and “let your light shine:”
LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE OCT. 22 FOR JACOB WETTERLING; ALL MISSING CHILDREN
The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center is asking individuals to commit to leaving a porch light lit on Tuesday, Oct. 22 to create hope and light in the world in honor of Jacob Wetterling, who was abducted on Oct. 22, 1989, in St. Joseph. The case remains open and unsolved. Jacob’s story has left an indelible mark on the hearts of thousands, if not millions, of people throughout Minnesota, the United States and the world.
JWRC has always asked families to leave a porch light on to honor Jacob on Oct. 22. In addition to turning on an outside light, JWRC encourages individuals to let their own lights shine. Help a neighbor, talk to your child about safety, support a local child-serving organization, the ideas are endless. There is no greater way to honor Jacob than to create a more hope-filled world.
It’s very rare an abductor comes forward to confess to a crime like this one. but in most cases, the abductor tells someone what they did. If you are able to shine a light into this case by coming forward to law enforcement with information that will lead to answers, JWRC encourages you to take that step. Leads on Jacob’s case can be called into the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at 800-THE-LOST.
The JWRC, originally called the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, was founded in 1990 by Patty and Jerry Wetterling following their son’s abduction near St. Joseph. (www.jwrc.org). JWRC has a proven history of educating families and communities to prevent sexual exploitation and abductions of children and also provides victim assistance to families of the missing.
Jacob’s legacy continues to be honored through JWRC, a program of the Gundersen National Child Protection Training Center. Their mission is to end all forms of child abuse, neglect and exploitation through training, education, advocacy, prevention and awareness, providing care and treatment for children, families and adults.
In my blog post dated June 8, “The suspicious cars,” I included an article from the St. Paul Pioneer Press dated November 25, 1989. In the article, police were asking for the public’s help in identifying three suspicious cars that were seen near the Tom Thumb in the days and weeks prior to Jacob’s abduction. The article included two composite sketches, but it was unclear which sketch went with which car. I felt this was important, because after the article ran, an art student came forward to say he was the one driving the smaller, red car and had been in the area looking for things to sketch. He was quickly ruled out as a suspect.
So, which of the two composite sketches was the art student?
Here’s a transcript of the article:
FBI seeks tips on 3 drivers
Cars were seen near Jacob’s home
By Kirsten Haukebo
Times Staff Writer
Authorities are seeking information on three cars seen in Jacob Wetterling’s neighborhood before the 11-year-old was abducted at gunpoint Oct. 22.
Sketches of drivers of two of the cars also were released.
FBI spokesman Byron Gigler said the drivers were not prime suspects.
“After intensive investigation in that neighborhood, these vehicles are ones that were pointed out as not fitting in. We’re very anxious to identify the drivers of the vehicles,” he said.
Jacob was biking near his home with his brother and a friend the night of the abduction. The boys were passed by several cars on the dead-end road that evening. Only one of the drivers has been located by authorities.
One of the vehicles sought by investigators is an older maroon car with rectangular or square taillights, described as looking like a 1976 Pontiac Catalina. the rear-end of the car was jacked up. It was seen on 90th Avenue about six weeks before the kidnapping, two weeks before and one week before.
It was seen parked twice at night on the avenue and both times the car left after a resident approached. The driver was seen once in the daytime and had a dark, full beard and was wearing a cap.
A sketch of that driver (No. 1) was based on numerous interviews with witnesses, Gigler said.
A second car was seen in the week before the abduction near 95th Avenue and Seventh Avenue SE, a neighborhood which lies across a field and to the west of the scene of the abduction.
The car was a small, red, older model with white trim, about the size of an American Motors Pacer or Gremlin. It had large rear tires, or a jacked-up rear end. the car had a dealer logo-type license plate on the rear, possibly with a white background and red and blue letters.
An artist’s conception of the driver is sketch No. 2. He wore glasses and a cap and had medium-length hair.
The third car is a red-orange station wagon, possibly jacked up in the rear. That car was seen during the day on Oct 21 or Oct. 22 near Kiwi Court, where the Wetterling family lives. A similar car was seen after dark on 91st Avenue on Oct. 22 about the time the boys were traveling to and from a nearby Tom Thumb store, where they had gone to pick up a video.
Observers did not provide a good descrption of the driver of the station wagon, so no sketch has been done, Gigler said.
So, now we know “Sketch 2″ was the art student who was ruled out as a suspect. He was the one driving the smaller, red Pacer/Gremlin. That leaves “Sketch 1″ as the person who was driving the maroon car… the one neighbors I spoke to had a very bad feeling about.
It’s interesting to note that the person in Sketch 1 looks a lot like this sketch we’ve all seen a thousand times before, sans beard:
This sketch was actually generated from a description given by “Jared,” the 12 year old Cold Spring boy who had been abducted and assaulted 10 months prior to Jacob’s disappearance. If you aren’t familiar with Jared’s story, you can download this transcript from a 2004 news story that ran on KARE 11:
Interestingly, the sketch above was the second composite drawing generated with Jared’s help. It was released on December 14, 1989, nearly a whole year after his assault. However, in the weeks immediately following Jared’s assault (which occured on January 13, 1989), there was a different sketch of the same man… also generated by Jared… and, presumably with a fresher memory:
And while we’re on the subject of composite sketches, it might be a good time to clarify a few others we’ve seen from this case, time and time again. Take a look at one more article from the St. Cloud Times, dated November 23, 1989 (at right).
The guy in the first sketch was the mean, scary guy from the Tom Thumb who was seen outside near the ice machine just 15 minutes before Jacob was abducted. He leered at customers, never made a purchase, and was also seen at another convenience story in Avon, earlier the same day.
The guy in the second sketch was also seen at the Tom Thumb, but two weeks later, on November 5. He was laughing and joking about the abduction, and said something to the clerk like, “That boy will never be seen again.”
The guy in the third sketch tried to abduct a 9 year old boy in New Brighton on November 8.
Following the release of these three sketches, a fourth sketch was released which attempted to combine all three previous sketches of the gray, bald-headed, 50-something white guy. Here is that sketch:
I’m still trying to track down a few key people who I think could answer more questions for me. In the meantime, keep sending your thoughts and suggestions my way. I’m especially interested in speaking to people who have first hand knowledge of this case.
As always, thanks for following along and “thinking Jacob” with me.
I have to admit, when I first started blogging about Jacob Wetterling back in 2010, I was pretty set in my way of thinking.
My theory was this. Whoever took Jacob SAW those boys on their way to the Tom Thumb and KNEW they would be returning down that same secluded road within a half hour. And because those boys had never been allowed to go to the Tom Thumb after dark before, I assumed this was a crime of opportunity. I assumed that the entire crime had taken place between the Wetterlings’ driveway and the Rassiers’ driveway. There was no hockey stalker, no pedo priest, no pre-meditation, and no lurker at the Tom Thumb. I strongly believed the person who took Jacob had some reason to be in the “red zone” (driveway to driveway) on that warm October night, saw an opportunity, and took it.
End of story.
Quite frankly, I also have to admit that early on, Dan Rassier looked like a pretty logical suspect. However, I also tried to expand my theory to include other people who may have had some reason to be in the red zone that evening. Another neighbor, perhaps? A farm hand? Pizza delivery boy? Wayward partier from the “party spot” in the woods? Someone who knew that the Rassiers would be gone that evening and had planned to rob them? Or say, Matti Feeney, perhaps?
All these scenarios seemed pretty viable in my own head; some even seemed likely. However, my thought process started to change after discovering two things. The first was a little tidbit I learned in my initial conversation with Patty Wetterling.
Patty mentioned that, although she had never let her own kids go to the Tom Thumb after dark before, there was another boy who lived in their neighborhood who went there on a regular basis. What if he had been the real target? What if Jacob had simply been a victim of circumstance… a kid who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time?
It was certainly plausible. And, it certainly made me stop and re-think some of my earlier assumptions.
The second thing that made me do some major re-thinking was the information I learned about the suspicious cars that had been lurking around the Tom Thumb in the days and weeks prior to Jacob’s abduction. From what I learned, it was the maroon car, in particular, that neighbors seemed to feel was up to no good.
Could it be that the driver of that jacked-up maroon car… the one that resembled a 1976 Pontiac Catalina… was looking for a kid who visited the Tom Thumb on a regular basis? A kid who lived in Jacob’s neighborhood and regularly rode his bike down that long, dark, secluded stretch of road? And what if that road was easily accessible from a cut-across road that ran behind the Del-Win Ballroom and provided easy access to County Road 75?
And what if that person was not working alone? What if he had accomplices who were parked in a separate car back behind the Del-Win? And what if that person had indeed been on foot at the time he confronted the boys, but also had a getaway car parked nearby? Maybe even in Rassiers’ driveway?
Wouldn’t that make some sense?
I thought so, too. So, last weekend, I decided to take another look at those tapes posted out on YouTube under the name “StearnTruth.” I’ve mentioned these before. They were posted by a former bail bonds woman from St. Cloud who recently told me she is launching a new web site in October that will discuss these tapes in more detail.
There’s one tape in particular that held my interest. Last weekend, for whatever reason, I decided to take a closer listen. When I couldn’t make out the conversation, I grabbed my ear buds, plugged them into my laptop and started transcribing the tape. The thing that piqued my interest? A maroon car.
I should mention… the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office is well aware of these tapes, and according to them, the information has already been investigated.
But still… take a listen and see what you think.
Download the transcript:
Listen to the interview:
Sorry for the lapse between blog posts lately. We have a son who just graduated from high school, so things have been a bit crazy here. However, I’m back in the groove and ready to kick things back into high gear.
Another reason this post has taken so long to publish is that it has gone through several revisions. I have worked very hard to build trust with the people whose stories I’m sharing here. That means, before I publish anything, I always encourage them to preview my posts to make sure I have all my facts straight. And, as I’m sure you can imagine, this can be a laborious, time-intensive process that involves several rounds of writing, rewriting, and proofing. In the end though, I think the time and effort are worth it. There is good information here… much of which I had never heard before.
I recently had the opportunity to speak to one of the neighbors who used to live near the Tom Thumb in St. Joseph. Though she wasn’t an eyewitness herself, she remembers hearing about several suspicious cars that were seen in her neighborhood in the days and weeks prior to Jacob’s abduction.
As you can see from the screen shot below, the Tom Thumb (which is now a vet clinic) was located just to the east of a residential neighborhood. At the time, it wouldn’t have been uncommon to see several kids buzzing around on any given night. It was a quiet, family-friendly neighborhood where everyone felt safe.
That is, until October 22, 1989… the night Jacob was abducted.
If you have followed this case from the beginning, you may remember there were early reports of a small, red “Chevette” that was seen in the area (and at the Tom Thumb) just prior to Jacob’s abduction. It was also seen over by the Del-Win, where the National Guard Armory is now. When this information was made public, an art student came forward to say he was most likely the person seen driving around the neighborhood in a red car. He had been in the area looking for things to sketch. Police verified his story, then quickly moved on to cover new leads.
However, the neighbor I spoke to wonders if police may have moved on too quickly. If the art student drove a small, red car, then what about the other car (or cars) neighbors had reported seeing? There was one in particular that was darker and larger… possibly maroon… with distinctive tail lights. What ever became of that lead?
Again, I was reminded that, in the days immediately following Jacob’s abduction, all information related to any unfamiliar vehicles in the area was shared with the FBI and police. A few neighbors even gave eyewitness statements, which are included in the official case file.
I wondered if I could take a look at those official statements. So, I contacted Captain Pam Jensen of the Stearns County Sheriff’s Department, the lead investigator on the Wetterling case since 1999. She told me that anyone who made an official statement in this case could request a copy of it through the records department at (320) 259-3700. However, for those whose information was included as part of a report but not an official statement, they may be out of luck. However, Captain Jensen said they were welcome to check.
So, without direct access to any official eyewitness statements, I was a bit stuck. I wasn’t willing to put any wrong information out there about these cars, so I decided to do a little digging. I went back and searched a bunch of old newspapers to see if I could find any information about the suspicious cars that had been spotted in the neighborhood near the Tom Thumb.
Lucky for me, I found a fantastic article published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press on November 25, 1989 (about one month after the abduction). In the article, authorities are asking for the public’s help in identifying three different cars that were seen around St. Joseph in the days and weeks prior to the abduction.
St. Paul Pioneer Press (MN)
November 25, 1989 Section: Metro
Edition: AM Metro Final Page: 8A
3 CARS, DRIVERS SOUGHT IN WETTERLING CASE Wayne Wangstad, Staff Writer
The task force investigating the Jacob Wetterling kidnapping is seeking public assistance in locating and identifying three vehicles and their drivers who were seen at or near the abduction scene before and on Oct. 22, the day Jacob was taken from his St. Joseph, Minn., neighborhood.
Several vehicles drove past Jacob, his brother and a friend while they were going to or returning from a Tom Thumb store near their home.
“We’ve been able to verify the existence of all the vehicles in the area except these three,” FBI spokesman Byron Gigler said. “It’s the type of neighborhood where you don’t get much through traffic because it is, basically, a dead end street.”
The three vehicles all had one item in common – their rear ends apparently had been jacked up. Sightings by witnesses all occurred in the early evening or at night.
“We’re not saying this is our man and this is our car; we’re just saying we need to locate and identify them,” Gigler said.
The task force, composed of the FBI, Stearns County deputies and Bureau of Criminal Apprehension agents, also released composite drawings of the drivers of two of the three vehicles. An artist’s drawing of the third driver was not available.
The first car is older. It is maroon – the color of a Minnesota State Trooper’s uniform – and has rectangular or square tail lights, and appears similar to a 1976 Pontiac Catalina. Like the other cars, its rear end was jacked up.
FBI agents said the car was seen on 90th Avenue near the Wetterling home about six weeks before Jacob’s abduction and again a week before he was kidnapped at gunpoint. On two occasions, the car was seen parked at night on 90th Avenue, but it left when a resident approached. The driver was seen once during daylight and a composite drawing was made based on that sighting.
The second car is an older smaller car that is about the size of an American Motors Pacer or Gremlin. The car is red with white trim and has large rear tires and a jacked-up rear end. Dealer or logo-style license plates – they may have had red and blue letters on a white background – were mounted on the rear of the car. It was seen a week before the abduction in an area west of the abduction scene.
The third car is a red-orange station wagon with a rear end that may have been jacked up. The car was seen during the day on Oct. 21 or Oct. 22 in the area of Kiwi Court in St. Joseph. A similar car was seen after dark near the abduction scene on Oct. 22, about the time the boys would have been going to and from the store.
Stearns County authorities and the FBI said people with information on the vehicles should call the task force’s 24-hour phone at 612-259-3981. Callers should provide as much information as possible, authorities said.
These are composite drawings of drivers of two of the three cars investigators seek more information about in the Jacob Wetterling kidnapping case.
Copyright (c) 1989 St. Paul Pioneer Press
So, if you’re like me, you’re probably wondering what a 1976 Pontiac Catalina looks like. I was also curious what kind of tail lights a 1976 Pontiac Catalina had. I Googled it and found the following images:
You probably also latched on to the fact that all three of these suspicious cars may have been “jacked up” in the back. What are the chances of that? The year was 1989 after all, not 1979. I wondered what kind of person drove a jacked-up car in 1989. It seems to me it would be a younger “gear-head type”… 20s to 30s vs. 40s to 50s.
Of the three cars described in the article, I also wondered which one had belonged to the art student who was eventually cleared. I may be wrong, but I believe it was the smaller red Geo Metro or AMC Pacer that was driven by the art student. Not sure about this though. I will try and find out. I’m also not sure which of the men in the composite sketches above goes with which car. I’ll try and find that out, as well.
So now… I have to admit… after learning all this information about the suspicious cars that were lurking around the area just prior to Jacob’s abduction, my theory about the case has changed a bit. I was always “of the camp” that believed this was a crime of opportunity, not a carefully thought-out plan carried out by a seasoned stalker. However, now I’m not so sure. I’ll discuss this more in my next blog post.
In the mean time, feel free to share your own thoughts about these cars. Also, if you happened to live in St. Joe at the time and witnessed one or more of these suspicious cars, I’d be especially interested in talking to you.
Finally, I’m still trying to find out the name of the store clerk (or clerks) who was/were working at the Tom Thumb that night. If you can help me out with that, please email me privately at email@example.com.